By Brian Arsenault
The most surrealistic experience imaginable was available to all on the evening three weeks before Christmas Eve. You simply had to switch back between your local NBC affiliate and CNN from about 8 p.m. on.
There was Mariah Carey, she of mixed racial heritage, singing “All I Want for Christmas is You” (rather badly) with some cute black kids all in white dancing behind her. It was the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting on Channel 6. Switch to CNN and there are a lot of black protestors, with some whites sprinkled in, lying down on the West Side Highway because no cop was indicted in the death of Eric Garner.
Seeing Lady Gaga sing with Tony Bennett (rather well) should be surreal enough for any Holiday Season. There’s a huge story going on in the streets of Manhattan. And so called NBC newsman Matt Lauer is introducing pop singers doing Christmas diddies. But you can’t break the night’s role, can you?
There’s so called CNN newsman Chris Cuomo leading a protestor to say what Chris Cuomo wants him to say. The question is so long and so directional that the guy would have to be a Cambridge debater to say something else.
Then there’s the Eric Garner video which caused all the stir. What can you do to bring down a 350 pound man who declines to be arrested? Then again, why is this happening at all? Over loose cigarettes. I understand that once cops place somebody under arrest they ain’t leaving till the suspect is in custody. But couldn’t you just keep talking and maybe issue a citation?
We heard so much about how cameras on cops would make all the difference. The President is even ready to pay for it. Did it help here?
And what am I to make of the report that the senior officer in charge on the scene was a black female sergeant. And couldn’t they give the guy some oxygen when it was so apparent “I can’t breathe” wasn’t a bluff?
So back and forth I went with my remote control. Happy people watching Christmas tunes by their favorites. Unhappy people marching and marching, seemingly aimlessly at times, passing all the lights and fancy windows of New York City during the Holidays.
Now Fox News and MSNBC jump in. We got a Congressman on Fox saying the cops did absolutely nothing wrong and that we have to respect the grand jury system. We got a legal system “expert” on MSNBC characterizing the Staten Island DA as only politically motivated and saying our grand jury system is rotten and should be abolished.
The head spins, the mind boggles and I can’t find one voice, not one, who says what is needed is a change of heart. It is the Christmas season and there is almost a void of goodwill toward men.
Atheists put up billboards mocking religion just because they can and believers respond with something less than Christian forgiveness. Ho ho ho.
A Cleveland cop shoots a kid who’s brandishing a toy gun that sure looked real after taking about two seconds to decide to fire. Now we find out that cop resigned from a smaller city’s force right before he was about to be fired for emotional instability. Yet the smaller town cops didn’t tell the big town’s cops. Your cells scream for a drink or a sedative.
I don’t know exactly what happened in Ferguson. Probably even those involved don’t know precisely any more. Memory wraps itself around what it needs to be and what the lawyers say.
I do know that I always told my two sons, white as white can be, that if a cop stops them for any reason it should be “yes sir, no sir.” That no 16 year old ever got far with an officer by being a smart ass. If the cop did wrong, we’ll deal with it down the line, I said.
Of course, there’s no dealing with it later if your kid gets killed, is there?
We’re on the precipice of a great divide here. Changing the grand jury system won’t fix it. Launching another endless investigation won’t do it. Stricter law enforcement and more vigorous protests won’t do it. All these things have been tried to one extent or another.
There’s a story about the legendary Boston Celtics Coach Red Auerbach, a white Jew, and Bill Russell, an African American activist before white people knew what that was. Bill was supposed to be “difficult” but Red’s theory was “I’ll treat you like a man, you’ll treat me like a man and we’ll go from there.” They became not just championship coach and player. They became lifelong friends.